5 – Washington Nationals acquire Mark Melancon (2016)
In a familiar theme for the Washington Nationals, they were creeping towards the MLB Trade Deadline with bullpen issues. They managed to help address them with the acquisition of Mark Melancon.
Between 2013 and 2015 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the right-handed reliever was one of the best around. He had a 1.85 ERA over those three seasons, with 100 saves and a 200 ERA+.
In 2016, Melancon was in the last year of his contract and had been to his third All-Star Game in four years. Then the Nationals came calling to help lock down the ninth inning moving forward.
While the season ended in familiar fashion with an NLDS loss, it was no fault of Melancon’s. With the Nationals, he posted a 1.82 ERA, giving up runs in 5 of his 30 appearances and converting 17 of 18 save opportunities.
However, the trade was only a rental, and the players that have gone back to the Pirates have been impressive performers for them. While the Nats would almost certainly do the trade again, it’s hard not to look at their success.
Felipe Vazquez, formerly Felipe Rivero, has been near dominant since joining the Buccos. He’s put up a 2.38 ERA, with 40 saves and finally harnessed the raw talent that had been on display with the Nats.
The lesser-known Taylor Hearn has progressed a huge amount in the Pirates farm system. At the time of writing, with the Double-A Altoona Curve, Hearn possessed 3.12 ERA and .198 batting average against.
Both of these guys are going to be great Pirates for a while and may make Nats fans think twice about the trade. But Melancon was exactly what the team needed at that point, the team just couldn’t get over the hump that season.